Even though she barely speaks, Eleven is the face of Netflix’s hit show, Stranger Things. Millie Bobby Brown’s memorable performance gives Eleven a mysterious quality, while simultaneously earning viewers’ sympathy.
The show is Netflix’s most popular series for a reason. Sure, the ’80s nostalgia and vibrant aesthetic are huge contributing factors, but it is standout characters like Eleven who really cement Stranger Things’ reputation. She doesn’t speak much, so when she does, her words are all the more memorable.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4.
Updated by Amanda Bruce on June 20, 2022: Eleven has had quite the journey since she first appeared in Stranger Things. From a nearly non-verbal child raised in a lab to a young woman adjusting to a new family and a new high school, Eleven has been forced to evolve in a short amount of time. Her early quotes in the series were typically only one or two words, but her command of language evolved with her character, bringing even more interesting lines to season 4.
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Eleven Brings Levity To A Serious Presentation
“This Is Mr. Fibbly. He Is A Squirrel.”
When season 4 begins, Eleven, using the name Jane, is a freshman in high school. She has to give a presentation on her hero, and she chooses to give one on Jim Hopper. It’s a hard topic for her to get through given that she still feels guilt and sadness about Hopper sacrificing himself. And the bullies in her class don’t make it easier.
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Elen leads off the presentation with a line about the squirrel that is part of her diorama. It’s meant to provide a little bit of levity for what’s going to be a heavy topic, and while Brown’s delivery is great, the joke doesn’t go as well as Eleven hoped.
Eleven Believes She’s Dangerous
“I’m The Monster.”
Throughout the first season, Eleven is very tight-lipped about who she is and where she’s come from, leaving the boys guessing. Lucas has suspicions about her and he’s not afraid to voice them. He calls her a monster when she uses her powers against him, and Mike and Dustin have to agree, despite trying to argue that she made a mistake at the same time.
She scares the boys, and they mistakenly believe that she’s lying to them, leading Eleven to go her own way for a bit. And while Eleven shows how inspiring she is after saving Mike from falling to his death, she tells them the truth — that she opened the Gate, letting the Demogorgon through, thus making her the monster. Mike immediately counters this by pointing out that she just saved his life.
Eleven Learns Insults From Mike
Especially in season 1, it’s rare for Eleven to speak. Most of her lines consist of only one word, which is often “no.” However, it appears that being quiet allows her to absorb the information around her.
She pays attention and listens carefully to what goes on around her. She hears Mike call one of the bullies a mouthbreather, which Mike explains is “a dumb person, a knucklehead.” Later, when she breaks into a store and steals Eggos, she calls the attendant a mouthbreather in one of her most iconic moments.
Eleven Learns That Time Is Relative
“Joyce Says Time Is Funny Like That. Emotions Can Make It Speed Up Or Slow Down. We Are All Time Travelers If You Think About It.”
Eleven learns a lot in a very short amount of time. She has a lot of catching up to do compared to other teenagers. As she learns more verbal skills while living with the Byers family in California, she’s writing Mike letters. In the letter that narrates the season 4 premiere’s opening, Eleven tells Mike about Joyce’s perspective on time.
While Eleven doesn’t entirely say that she agrees with Joyce, it certainly sounds like she does. Eleven spends a lot of time eagerly anticipating Mike’s arrival, and a very short amount of time seeing her relationship begin to unravel.
Eleven Admits She Listened For Mike
“353 Days. I Heard.”
Mike and Eleven are separated at the end of season 1 when Eleven sacrifices herself to get rid of the Demogorgon. Mike proceeds to call her on his walkie-talkie every single single day for 353 days.
RELATED: 5 Reasons Eleven And Mike Are The Best Stranger Things Couple (& 5 They Should Break Up)
Eleven can only listen in by transporting herself to the Upside Down, where she can enter an ethereal space and remain unseen. She listens to Mike every day but can’t say anything back, which pains both of them. When they’re finally reunited at the end of season 2, Mike starts to tell her that he called her every day, but she cuts him off and finishes his sentence for him.
Eleven Wants To Help Defend Hawkins
“I Can Fight.”
In season 3, Eleven really learns to control and finesse her powers. This is largely thanks to her little lesson with Kali in season 2, which taught her a lot, even if fans didn’t love the episode.
In the Battle of Starcourt, Eleven contributes greatly to the fight against the Mind Flayer and in protecting her friends. However, she quickly feels drained. Nevertheless, she insists to Hopper that she should stay and fight, instead of leaving him to save herself. It’s a moment where she truly believes she can do good and wants to help her friends, even though she’s been compromised.
Eleven Wants To Embrace Halloween
At the start of season 2, Eleven feels trapped in Hopper’s tiny home. She’s not allowed to go outside or talk to any of her friends, who aren’t even sure if she’s alive.
RELATED: 5 Times Eleven Was The Best Stranger Things Heroine (& 5 Times It Was Nancy)
The season picks up on Halloween, when Mike, Will, Dustin, and Max go trick-or-treating. Eleven wants to join in so she can see her friends, even if she has to be disguised to do so. She dons a sheet and cuts out holes for the eyes, explaining to Hopper that she’s a ghost. Still, he doesn’t let her go out, and Eleven becomes frustrated.
Eleven Learns About Friendship In Season 1
“What Is ‘Friend?'”
Eleven doesn’t know much of the world, having spent her childhood locked up in a laboratory. Though she did spend time with children her own age in the seclusion of the lab, she was bullied by Dr. Brenner’s other test subjects. Season 4 also reveals that trauma blocks a lot of her memories of that time as well. What Eleven learns about friendship comes from Mike and the Party. When he first mentions friends to her, Eleven has to question what a friend is.
For viewers, this is a moment to feel bad for Eleven, but when she asks Mike what “friend” means, he doesn’t judge her. He explains that it’s someone you’d do anything for, and someone you’d never lie to.
Eleven Learns About Compromise
In season 2, Eleven is still expanding her vocabulary and learning to understand slang. When she is upset that she can’t go trick-or-treating, Hopper decides on a compromise.
RELATED: 5 Biggest Ways Eleven Has Changed From Season Stranger Things 1 Until Now (& 5 She Stayed The Same)
Eleven has never heard of a compromise, so Hopper explains that it means “halfway happy.” Eleven uses this term on a few occasions throughout the season, but it seems more like she’s halfway sad.
Eleven Dumps Mike
“I Dump Your A**!”
One of Eleven’s most shining moments in Stranger Things is when she dumps Mike in season 3. It seems like a silly and frivolous thing to do, especially when it’s followed by a shot of Eleven and Max high-fiving on the bus, dripping ice-creams in hand.
Throughout season 3, Eleven is trying to figure out who she is, especially without male influences. This moment really cements her rise to autonomy. Having dumped Mike, Eleven is ready to be herself on her own, to make her own choices and do what she wants to do.
Eleven Struggles To Fit In
“I Do Not Belong. Anywhere.”
While Mike and his friends can easily see that Eleven doesn’t entirely fit in when they find her in Hawkins, Eleven learns just how out of place she is in the world as well. The more she experiences, the more she grapples with figuring out her place.
She struggles while being kept in the cabin by Hopper because she craves social interaction. And she struggles when she meets up with Kali because the two don’t always see eye to eye. These challenges are further compounded in season 4 when Eleven experiences public school. A freshman in high school with Will, Eleven finds herself unable to make friends or connect with others. She also can no longer use her abilities, and it leaves her adrift. Eleven doesn’t believe she belongs, and she voices as much to Mike.
Eleven Tries A New Style
Eleven seems to have a pattern of picking up random slang and either misunderstanding it or adopting it into her everyday language. When she goes away in season 2, Kali and the others give her a makeover.
She assumes a new look, caked in dark makeup and cloaked in black clothes. The others call her “bitchin'” and she later repeats the term to Hopper, and later, to Mike.
Eleven Holds This Friendship Rule Close
“Friends Don’t Lie.”
One of the most important rules in this show is that friends don’t lie to each other. Mike, Lucas, and Dustin establish this almost immediately as they attempt to welcome Eleven into their Party.
It takes some time for this to sink in, but eventually, Eleven is telling other people about this rule. When she thinks that Mike is lying to her about his grandmother, she insists to Max that friends don’t lie, but she retorts that boyfriends do. She also gets upset with Hopper for lying to her about when she can see Mike and the others, but he thinks he’s lying for her own good.
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About The Author
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After years of relocation, Svetlana Sterlin (she/her) was raised by her Russian parents in Brisbane, Australia, where she completed a BFA and contributes to ScreenRant and Our Culture Magazine. An avid cinephile and bookworm, Svetlana also writes creatively across multiple forms and genres. Her fiction and poetry appear in several printed and digital publications. Find more from Svetlana here: https://linktr.ee/svetlanasterlin.
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